"Criminal Minds" turns 200 tonight and to celebrate the anniversary episode, several former cast members will return including Paget Brewster as Emily Prentiss, Jayne Atkinson as Erin Strauss, and Josh Stewart as J.J.'s (A.J. Cook) husband Det. William LaMontagne, Jr.
At the end of episode 199, after the case was solved and the BAU [Behavioral Analysis Unit] team were returning to their homes, J.J. had a big thrown over her head and was kidnapped, and we were left hanging.
"When we come back, it is our 200th episode, and we hit the ground running," says Executive Producer Erica Messer. "It feels like a little mini-movie. It tells us who has J.J. now, and also how that ties in with the missing year when she wasn't at the BAU. It ties that all up nicely. Of course, the team goes through a lot of present-day stakes to save our girl."
Of course, the only way for Erin Strauss to be in the is flashbacks, since her character has been killed off. But Prentiss is alive and well and living in London, so when the BAU delves into J.J.'s time at the State Department to find clues to her disappearance and uncover a secret mission that now puts her life in danger, they turn to Prentiss for help.
"We go to London for a minute to see what life she is living now and she ends up coming over to help us," Messer adds.
Following are the answers to a few more questions posed to Messer:
Where did the inspiration come for the Garcia-centered [Kirsten Vangsness] episode? It was great.
It was born out of us wanting to do some origin stories this year, but we knew that you can't do origin stories for everybody or it gets too repetitive. The one we really wanted to tell was Garcia's because she had the most spotty past technically in terms of being on the wrong side of hacking to being on the right side of it. So Breen Frazier, who wrote the episode, said, "I think I have a take on it." Really what we wanted to do was introduce not just who she was before but who her love was before.
When we told Kirsten what her story was, she loved it. She also wanted to be a part of what Garcia looked like before she became the Garcia we all know and love. So she worked really closely with hair, makeup and wardrobe to make sure they got the tone right. I think they just knocked it out of the park.
The episode started with the sexual harassment seminar. Going forward will Garcia and Morgan [Shemar Moore] change the way they talk to each other?
No. In fact, it is funny. We quite often don't script "baby girl." Shemar just adds them. They will riff off one another all the time with all that fun banter because they've done it for so long now. I think they have a good time when they have those moments, so we can't change them.
Will Hotch's [Thomas Gibson] girlfriend return?
The real-life version of it gets really tricky since Bellamy Young is the first lady on "Scandal." Our production schedules line up almost exactly. We would love to have her, I just don't know if it will work out for this season or not.
As you look towards the end of the season, are you planning a season finale as opposed to a series finale?
I certainly am not planning a series finale. I am planning the end of Season 9 and getting ready for 10. That's how I am moving forward.
"Criminal Minds" airs Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. on CBS.